The Garda Representative Association:
"I welcome you to the 32nd Annual Delegate Conference of the Garda Representative Association. I accept your non-attendance last year was due to circumstances beyond your control, but was disappointed you did not make greater effort to fulfil our invitation to attend the conference dinner.
At conference last year I called for the embargo on promotions to be lifted. I thank the Minister for Finance for heeding the call and I’m glad to say that practically all the members of the Garda Representative Association who should have been promoted last year now are.
At conference last year I said, “This government is driving experience out of An Garda Síochána. A rising number of members of all ranks who could and who want to continue to serve this country are considering retirement.” Sadly my words proved to be correct. In one garda division alone, numbers are down by 20 in recent months.
At conference last year I spoke about the mothballing of the Garda College. Disgracefully, there are no students in the college – for the first time in its history. Due to government policy there will be no students in the Garda College for a long time to come. An Garda Síochána is contracting by the direct action of the government; experience is being driven out and no new blood coming in. This is pushing the Force to the brink of disaster.
An effective police force needs continuity, a principle tried and tested the world over but ignored in Ireland. In these uncertain times the public needs to know that there will be adequate frontline gardaí for them. Garda numbers will fall again by the end of 2010. The people of Ireland should rightly demand garda recruitment is taken away from government because it is misused as an election gimmick. It is far too important for that. The Garda Representative Association will continue to campaign for an end to this obnoxious trick.
For the past year and a half, gardaí and other public sector workers have endured an unrelenting, distasteful and vitriolic attack from the government and their wealthy cronies. This was distasteful and unbelievable considering the role garda take in society. It most definitely verged on incitement to hatred. The attacks were orchestrated to demonise and marginalise public sector workers. They were designed to drive a wedge between public and private sector workers.
But the ancient tactic of divide and conquer did not succeed, except with those misguided souls who contact daytime radio talk shows. They were primed to deflect attention away from the ‘national saboteurs’.
We are angry, we have been betrayed and we are disillusioned. But I do not believe it is yet understood just how angry we are. And that anger will find an outlet, the anger that we feel will find its target.
We are angry at being portrayed as self-serving, overpaid, under-worked and dishonest people with overly generous pensions that we don’t pay for. Yes, there are public servants who fit into that category; they are represented by you and your colleagues, not us.
We are angry that we, our children and our children’s children have been sacrificed by this government to protect the people who bankrolled your party and robbed the Irish People. Men like Fingers and Seanie were held up by government as examples of entrepreneurial skill and business acumen but who were nothing more than ‘gombeen’ men.
We are angry at the arrogance of a government corrupted by years of power has lost touch with the reality of life on a modest salary; if they ever knew it at all. A government whose only agenda is to protect the economic traitors.
We are angry at being lectured by government on the need to be patriotic. A patriot is ‘a person who vigorously supports his country and its way of life.’ This government is misusing what it means to be Irish as they support a new aristocracy created in their image. This new aristocracy chooses whether to retain state pensions while still working as public representatives, using all means to spend vast resources on the few, while taking pay from the majority. This government have created a new class system; one that does not value our service and dedication.
We are angry about NAMA. No, not the entity set up by government to bail out developers and speculators who reneged on their debts, the cost of which you have placed on the shoulders of generations of Irish workers to come. Yes, we are angry about that, but, I am talking about the NAMA that the government is, The National Assets Mismanagement Agency.
The government of which you are a long serving member has mismanaged the wealth of this country for more than a decade by allowing our assets to be plundered and robbed by bankers and speculators and you are making generations of Irish workers pay the price for this treachery. You did this because bankers and speculators have bought your party, and in return you have sacrificed the greater good and prosperity of the Irish Nation for the benefit of the few – the few who have now taken their ill-gotten gains and secured them in tax haven around the world. Truly, a government of national sabotage.
In the face of the unwarranted attack by the government on the workers and unemployed of this country the Garda Representative Association has stood head and shoulders above other trade unions. We have shown leadership, temerity, tenaciousness and courage. We have lead from the front.
The Central Executive Committee picketed Dáil Eireann. No government minister or TD had the courage to come out and meet us. We led 4,000 of our members on a march to the Dáil. Once again no government minister had the courage to come out to us. We joined the 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance. No minister had the courage to tell us we shouldn’t be part of that alliance. They knew the answer that we would have given them.
On the 7th December 2009 we announced that we were going to ballot our members on industrial action. I have no doubt the announcement saved our allowances from the hatchet.
You Minister came out fighting, saying you were going to arrest and jail the CEC, and forgetting that you hadn’t the power. Then you threatened to seize the assets of the GRA; believing your own frenzy you went on to threaten to arrest the printers and the postal workers. As we know none of this happened – except the issuing of the ballot.
What the GRA said we would do, we did. What you, Minister, said you wouldn’t allow, you couldn’t stop.
An ‘away win’ for the Garda Representative Association.
The GRA has now set forth on a course to become a full trade union. Minister, you have said that we will never achieve that status. That is the second leg. And when, in the near future, the GRA achieves trade union status, it will be the home win."